Starring Morfydd Clark and Jennifer Ehle Saint Maud is an intimate psychological story about a hospice nurse and her struggle with her recently found faith. Maud (Clark) is a woman who has gone through a lot recently in her life and has found peace in the Catholic Church.
Her next patient is Amanda (Ehle) an eccentric ex-dancer who is in her final days. Amanda is everything Maud is not. She speaks her mind, lives her life even if her illness as slowed her down considerably and smokes like a chimney.
The plot begins fairly predictably as Maud and Amanda try and understand each other. One coming from a place of faith the other who has never really had any to begin with. However, as we enter the halfway point of Saint Maud the two splinter from each as Maud takes a few steps too far in her care of Amanda. From there the film drastically moves away from the carer and cared storyline we’ve all come to expect.
Instead we the audience learn about a possible mental fragility within Maud where she believes she is being spoken to by God and whenever she pleases him he returns the favour and so she believes her mission is to save the sinful Amanda before she passes.
The saints and sinners of Saint Maud
Saint Maud is a fascinating film at first. You’re not quite sure what is going on with Maud, is she insane or is God speaking to her, or is something far more sinister speaking to her? You do not know and I was excited to see where the film went with this. Sadly the film didn’t go far enough. Every now and then it leans towards answering one of these questions but then it backtracks and leans towards one of the other answers. This means you’re left with being somewhat confused.
I would have loved if we’d gotten more on this psychological/supernatural aspect of the film as this is when the film is at its best. Morfydd Clark is fascinating as the slightly alien Maud. She seems a little out of step with everyone else and it adds to the unnerving sense that there maybe is something darker here. In my opinion though the film never fully capitalises on it.
There are brief moments where something more sinister creeps into the film but they’re gone just as quickly as they arrived. One scene involves something speaking to Maud and it is genuinely disturbing. The audio and language used within that one scene was a highlight for me.
As the first film for Rose Glass there is a lot to enjoy but there are clear teething issues. My major issue with the film is that for a film only as long as 83 minutes it felt bloated. It’s strange because so much was packed in and yet the film doesn’t even hit the 90-minute mark and there are certain elements of the story that I’d have personally liked more background on.
For example what happened to Maud before the film? Something clearly messed her up but it is given to us in drips and drabs of information and you never truly find out. Then there are the final 15 minutes of the film that seem divorced from the rest of the film. I had to hold in a laugh when a scene between Amanda and Maud went a certain way in that final act because I didn’t think the film had earned what happened.
Honestly though those are the only bad aspects of Saint Maud. The cinematography can be quite superb at times and I enjoyed the gothic setting of the film. Amanda’s house is full of sin in Maud’s eyes and so the colour and layout reflects that. Also, the score is quite smothering making you feel what Maud is going through at each moment. It’s very well done.
All in all Saint Maud is a decent first outing for Rose Glass and is good film elevated by its intimate cast. Check it out when it hits cinemas and stay tuned to Scannain for more news, reviews, and interviews.